Detroit Tigers: Outlook on Jace Jung is a little concerning

Detroit Tigers no.12 overall draft pick, Jace Jung, formerly of the Texas Tech Red Raiders throws to first base against the Sam Houston State Bearkats at Minute Maid Park. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Detroit Tigers no.12 overall draft pick, Jace Jung, formerly of the Texas Tech Red Raiders throws to first base against the Sam Houston State Bearkats at Minute Maid Park. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Detroit Tigers prospect Jace Jung has a frightening future outlook.

The Detroit Tigers went out and selected Jace Jung with the 12th overall pick in the 2022 MLB First-Year Amateur Draft. This was the last first-round pick out of Al Avila before he was fired last month in August.

It was one last “gift” to the Detroit Tigers before he departed, and frankly, it’s a “meh” one. When the Detroit Tigers selected Jace Jung, it was clear that they added in a bat-first prospect who will give a boost to the Tigers’ farm system.

The issue I take with Jung is that the future outlook does not have a lot of exciting upside besides the bat. His older brother, Josh Jung, was drafted from the Texas Tech baseball program in the 2019 draft by the Texas Rangers.

They took him with the eighth overall pick has settled in as a third baseman with the Rangers organization, working his way through the minors. In fact, the Rangers allowed Jung to make his debut, where he has logged six games in the big leagues.

His brother slotted in at third base with the Red Raiders program following Josh being drafted. That did not work out well, and Jace had to be shifted over to second base. While even at second, the defense is not the best, but he was able to “settle in” and make it his home.

The issue of finding him a position as he works towards the major leagues is what concerns me. He will stay at second base, but the defense is bad. He’s not the most athletic player defensively, but the bat is what carries him.

Detroit Tigers prospect Jace Jung will be good, but he must hit.

As the Detroit Tigers move forward with a new regime in the front office, it will be interesting to see how they handle Jace Jung’s development. He can hit; that’s understandable. Jung has the makings to keep hitting as he moves through the minors, but the ceiling is what worries me.

Jung has such an unorthodox swing, but it works. He starts with the feet open, bent at the knees, and the hands/bat up high and tilted back towards the umpire. It’s a similar awkward look as Matt Olson, except the hands are back, not out.

He closes up in his load, the upper half getting closed up and the leg lifting into a hovering lift, but he’s able to control the front foot, getting it down on time and driving through the zone with force. He rotates through the zone and frequently gets a good path to the ball.

I’m not trying to doubt that he can hit. That’s going to be proven. He was a first-round draft pick; there’s a degree of talent there. My argument is that there were better options that they could have taken at pick no.12 in the draft.

I worry about the long-term value of Jung. I worry that he has a huge ceiling ahead of him. Even if the bat carries him, he’s looking at being a future power-hitting second baseman. His athleticism has to improve to be anything more than a less athletic Adam Frazier.

The ceiling for him because of his bat could be Max Muncy, but I just have a hard time buying into that. The bat plays, but he has to prove he will get better in the minors and continue to improve as a big leaguer.

Chris Brown of Woodward Sports seems to think there is hope but is also not as high on Jung as some are.

Brown mentions that Jung is not a Top-100 prospect in his eyes but has the potential to get there. For me, it’s more of the same. I think the bat carries the weight of his value. If he is able to come into the organization and hit well over an entire summer in 2023, there are reasons to like him.

He is a candidate to move up the organization as he proves he can hit, but I still feel that there were better options on the draft board. He did play in 30 games with West Michigan, logging 134 plate appearances where he slashed .232/.373/.333 with six doubles, a triple, and a home run to his credit.

Looking back on the draft, I still feel that the move to select Jung is frustrating. Taking Jung at 12 was not the best decision this team could have made on draft day. The outlook for Jung is frightening if he does not come out swinging in 2023.

Jung will be good, but thinking that he will be as elite as Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson is a bit of a stretch if you ask me. I think his ceiling is lower than many are putting it. But, for the Tigers’ sake, I hope he blows through that ceiling and is a spectacular big leaguer, but I’m not bought in yet.

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Time is the true determinant; check back next year when Jung returns for the 2023 season. He has to come out swinging it well and start moving up the ranks and garnering some attention.